York University welcomes back to class legislation and return to work of teaching assistants and graduate assistants


York University welcomes the passage of back-to-class legislation that will end the strike by CUPE 3903.

“We believe in the collective bargaining process and share the view that back-to-work legislation is a last resort. Unfortunately, as supported by the Kaplan Report released by the Industrial Inquiry Commissioner, we reluctantly had to conclude that the parties had reached an impasse in negotiations. We appreciate that Premier Ford and his government have made it possible to end the strike and allow our students to return to their studies. We look forward to welcoming our CUPE 3903 colleagues back and coming together to provide students access to a high quality, research intensive learning experience,” said Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor, York University.

The strike began on March 5 after six months of negotiations and 27 face-to-face meetings between York and CUPE 3903 failed to produce an agreement.

The University and the Union also met after the strike began, including several meetings led by William Kaplan and later, with Kevin Burkett, a second mediator jointly agreed to by CUPE 3903 and York.

On June 16, contract faculty in CUPE 3903 Unit 2, representing 1,100 contract faculty, voted to accept York’s offer and return to work. However, CUPE 3903 Unit 1, representing 1,900 teaching assistants, and CUPE 3903 Unit 3, representing 130 graduate assistants, remained on strike.

“My greatest concern has been for our students who have been most affected by the strike. At the same time, I know that all members of our community have been impacted. York is an incredible University graduating globally educated citizens and making a difference in the communities we serve. I am committed to working with colleagues across the University to regain our momentum as a leader in higher education,” Lenton said.

Quick facts:

  • York is the Ontario university-sector leader for total compensation for pay, benefits and job security for contract faculty, graduate assistants and teaching assistants.
  • CUPE 3903’s members went on strike on March 5, 2018 after rejecting the best offer of its kind in Ontario.
  • York’s full-time Faculty teach more than 60% of all courses.
  • CUPE 3903 Unit 2 members voted to accept York’s offer and returned to work on June 16.
  • York University has 14 collective agreements with different unions. Negotiations with full-time faculty at York are now underway.
  • Over the past 20 years, York University has successfully negotiated 79 collective agreements, there were four strikes: all with CUPE 3903.

Media contact:
Barbara Joy, Director, Media Relations